Picadilly Line

The Huge World of Emily Small

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The Picadilly Line's sole album is one of the recordings that most epitomizes what has been retrospectively dubbed the "toytown" school of British psychedelia by collectors. That is, the songs bounce along daintily; the vocal emphasis is on high harmonies; the lyrics are sometimes populated with observations of British everyday life and characters, sprinkled with a coat of whimsy; and the arrangements benefit from touches of baroque orchestration. It's executed here, however, with a fey, twee touch that makes the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle, for instance, sound rough 'n' ready by comparison. It's thus going to be too light even for some British psychedelic pop enthusiasts, but it's not quite the most saccharine entry in the genre, though it's undeniably precious. There's a folky lightness that keeps this from being too wide-eyed and childish, sometimes sounding a bit like Simon & Garfunkel gone toytown, though with some similarities to both the 1967-era Beatles and '60s California pop in the vocals and arrangements. The covers of Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" and the Everly Brothers' "Gone, Gone, Gone," however, seem misplaced in these surroundings. The CD reissue adds ten bonus cuts of a similar nature (though they're sometimes marginally gutsier) and the same level of professionalism, including all three of their non-LP cuts that appeared on singles in 1968. Of these, the one of most interest is "Yellow Rainbow," as it was written by Graham Nash, then of the Hollies. Unsurprisingly, it sounds much like a Hollies song given a lighter treatment than the Hollies themselves would have; also unsurprisingly, to be a little uncharitable, it's by far the best track on the CD.

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